UMass by any other name
What did students call themselves when you were on campus?
More than 550 alumni responded to the poll in the summer 2021 issue of UMass Magazine and brought us all on a historical tour of affection, pride, and nostalgia through the decades.
What students were called was strongly affiliated with the decade in which they studied on campus, with certain names showing a surge in popularity during specific decades:
All those “Other” entries
The name that received the most write-ins was Redmen, which was the official name for the UMass sports teams from about 1958 to 1969. The move to Minutemen in 1969 reflects an awakening consciousness of the pain the previous nickname causes for Native Americans. Around that same time, the term UMies began to appear more frequently in our survey results.
The rise of the UMie
People weren’t always sure how UMies emerged or became popularized, but many embraced the term and still use it.
Antoinette “Toni” Zographos ’69 theorized, “Once the state expanded the university system, we called ourselves UMies to differentiate us from the new campuses.” Others noted Bong McGilvray’s comic strip called UMies in the Daily Collegian in the 1970s.
Minutemen and Minutewomen
The transition to the Minutemen as the UMass team mascot came in 1969, but depending on one’s perch at the university, there were still many potential nicknames.
1990s grad: I was a member of the women’s cross country and track and field teams. We usually would say Minutewomen just to distinguish ourselves from the men’s team.
2000s grad: I’m not so sure the students really called themselves Minutemen, but it was definitely our mascot. I thought of the teams as the Minutemen, but not myself. (Kind of weird to refer to yourself as a man when you are a woman.)
Rich Clair ’74: I rowed at UM 1970-1974. Hanging in the rafters of the Cage was the original shell in which a crew from MAC (Mass Agricultural College) beat boats from Harvard and Brown. In recognition of those long-ago athletes, we always called ourselves “Aggies”!
Many respondents were clear that while the sports teams were called one thing, they favored another for students in general. One grad from the 2010s explains, “I suppose we called ourselves Minutemen, but we didn’t refer to ourselves this way often. However, we sure did (and do!) have UMass pride!”
Bandos at the Zooniversity
In the ’80s and ’90s, Zoo Mass was popular with respondents as a campus nickname—and Zoomies for the students. The latter has had a bit of a resurgence during the pandemic, it seems, related to online learning via Zoom videoconferencing.
Some folks identified more closely with the marching band, who were sometimes called Bandos (or the Power and Class of New England!), and while Aggie was considered “old school” by several of our respondents, Stockbridge alums still embrace the term and its reference back to the early days of Massachusetts Agricultural College. Respondents also recalled a few hilarious, yet unprintable, nicknames. Ah, college life!
Thank you to everyone who responded to the poll. Stay tuned for more opportunities to share your memories of UMass—and create new ones.